Sept 21 - New Report Shows Mercury Contaminating More Species

Airborne mercury that can end up in water and land can come from a variety of locations, including medical and trash incinerators. The National Wildlife Federation released a new report that includes findings from published studies of elevated levels of mercury in a wide range of wildlife species. San Francisco Chronicle Environment Writer Jane Kay reports.

Mercury pollution from power plants and other industrial sources has accumulated in birds, mammals and reptiles across the country, and only cuts in emissions can curtail the contamination, says a report released Tuesday by a national environmental group.

The report is the first major compilation of studies investigating mercury buildup in such wildlife as California clapper rails, Maine's bald eagles, Canadian loons and Florida panthers. In all, scientists working with the National Wildlife Federation found 65 studies showing troublesome mercury levels in 40 species.

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Mercury is a bioaccumulative toxin which negatively affects both public health and the environment and can have negative affects on wildlife, such as eagles, otters, and the endangered Florida panther. Humans become exposed mercury by eating mercury-contaminated fish.

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